Russia, China object to U.S. proposal to blacklist Russian bank at U.N.: diplomats

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Russia and China on Thursday objected to a U.S. proposal to add a Russian bank, Moscow-based North Korean banker and two other entities to a U.N. Security Council blacklist, diplomats said.

The list of proposed designations mirrors new sanctions announced by the U.S. Treasury last week.

The United States made the proposal to the 15-member U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, which operates by consensus.

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Russia objected to the designations because it said the U.S. proposal was not “adequately substantiated by sufficient information,” diplomats said. China gave no reason for its objections.

Russia and China have suggested the Security Council discuss easing sanctions after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met for the first time in June and Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization.

The United States and other council members have said there must be strict enforcement of sanctions until Pyongyang acts.

Last week, Washington imposed sanctions on Moscow-based Agrosoyuz Commercial Bank, North Korean banker Ri Jong Won, China-based Dandong Zhongsheng Industry & Trade Co Ltd and North Korea-based Korea Ungum Corporation.

The U.S. Treasury Department said Agrosoyuz Commercial Bank had conducted “a significant transaction” for North Korean banker Han Jang Su, who had been blacklisted by Washington. Han is the Moscow-based chief representative of Foreign Trade Bank (FTB), North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank.

The Security Council blacklisted FTB in August last year. Ri is FTB’s deputy representative in Moscow.

The U.S. Treasury said Dandong Zhongsheng Industry & Trade and Korea Ungum Corporation were FTB front companies.

The U.N. blacklist would impose a global travel ban and asset freeze on those designated.

Russia and China last month delayed a U.S. push for the Security Council sanctions committee to order a halt to refined petroleum exports to North Korea, asking for more detail on a U.S. accusation that Pyongyang breached sanctions, diplomats said.

Sanctions by the United States and the U.N. Security Council, which include a ban on exports of coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood from North Korea, and caps on imports of oil and refined petroleum products, are aimed at choking off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

 

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Chinese newspaper mocks Trump's claim of winning trade war as 'wishful thinking'

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese state media kept up their criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade policies, with a newspaper on Tuesday describing as “wishful thinking” Trump’s belief that a fall in Chinese stocks was a sign of his winning the trade war.

As the world’s two biggest economies remained locked in a heated tariff dispute, Beijing and Washington have kept up a blistering rhetoric with threats and counter-threats of more punitive trade measures.

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The editorial in the official China Daily underscored an increasingly aggressive stance adopted by Chinese state media against Trump, a shift from their previous approach of tempering any direct criticism against the U.S. president.

On Monday, the overseas edition of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper singled out Trump, saying he was starring in his own “street fighter-style deceitful drama of extortion and intimidation”.

China proposed retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods ranging from liquefied natural gas (LNG) to some aircraft on Friday, following the Trump administration’s plan for a higher 25 percent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

https://s4.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20180807&t=2&i=1290943644&r=LYNXMPEE7601U&w=1200FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers are seen on a cargo vessel at the Dachan Bay Terminals in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

The China Daily referred to a Saturday Tweet by Trump which said “Tariffs are working far better than anyone anticipated. China market has dropped 27 percent in last four months.”

China’s stock market was performing poorly before the U.S. administration imposed tariffs, said the English-language newspaper, asserting that the downturn was partly due to Beijing’s attempts to cut corporate debt.

The paper said Trump’s claim that “tariffs are working big time” was undermined by data showing the U.S. trade deficit climbed $3 billion to $46.3 billion in June, the first increase in four months.

The China Daily is often used by the government to communicate its message to an international audience.

Trump has repeatedly criticized China for its trade deficit with the United States, saying it showed Beijing was engaging in unfair trade practices.

Chinese state media has also been promoting the message that the country’s economy is strong enough to ride out the trade war.

https://s4.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20180807&t=2&i=1290943643&r=LYNXMPEE7601V&w=1200FILE PHOTO - Shipping containers are seen at the port in Shanghai, China April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

In a separate commentary, in the People’s Daily overseas edition, a researcher at the Commerce Ministry reiterated this stance, saying China was strong and resilient enough to weather the trade dispute.

“We absolutely have reason to believe that during this complex trade friction, and relying on the domestic market, China can continue to enhance its leading position in the global economic and industrial system,” researcher Mei Xinyu wrote.

Despite the U.S. tariffs, a Reuters poll of economists forecast China’s exports to have grown in July, though many see a deteriorating outlook for shipments especially if Trump goes ahead with his threats to slap more punitive duties on Chinese imports

Recent data showed growth in the world’s second largest economy has already started to cool. The government has responded by releasing more liquidity into the banking system, encouraging lending and promising a more “active” fiscal policy.

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China Threatens New Tariffs On $60 Billion Worth Of US Goods

Beijing: Beijing warned Friday it was prepared to impose new tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods if Washington ups the ante in the escalating US-China trade war.

The commerce ministry issued a statement saying the new duties would be applied if Washington pulled the trigger on President Donald Trump's threat to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The Chinese reaction is sure to ratchet up tensions with the Trump administration at the end of a week that saw stock markets rattled by the intensifying trade battle.

"China always believes that consultation on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit is an effective way to resolve trade differences," the commerce ministry said.

"Any unilateral threat or blackmail will only lead to intensification of conflicts and damage to the interests of all parties."

The statement said the date of implementation of the taxes will depend on the "actions of the US side" and China reserves the right to apply "other countermeasures".

The threat came a day after Chinese officials appealed for dialogue based on "mutual respect", with Foreign Minister Wang Yi urging the United States on Thursday to remain "cool-headed".

The commerce ministry threat came after Wang met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Singapore on Friday.

Washington and Beijing are locked in battle over American accusations that China's export economy benefits from unfair policies and subsidies, as well as theft of American technological know-how.

Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on virtually all of China's exports to the United States in the tit-for-tat trade conflict.

Defend China's 'Dignity'

The US already imposed 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods in early July, with another $16 billion to be targeted in coming weeks, drawing an in-kind retaliation from China.

Days later, Washington unveiled a list of another $200 billion in Chinese goods, from areas as varied as electrical machinery, leather goods and seafood, that would be hit with 10 percent import duties.

But Trump raised the stakes this week by asking the US Trade Representative to consider increasing the proposed tariffs on the $200 billion worth of goods to 25 percent.

The Chinese commerce ministry blamed the United States for escalating the situation.

"China to take necessary countermeasures to defend the country's dignity and the interests of the people, defend free trade and the multilateral system, and defend the common interests of all countries in the world," the statement said.

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"Some Are Very Mad": Anger In Google Over Reported China Search Engine

Beijing: Google is crafting a search engine that would meet China's draconian censorship rules, a company employee told AFP on Thursday, in a move decried by human rights activists.

Google withdrew its search engine from China eight years ago due to censorship and hacking but it is now working on a project for the country codenamed "Dragonfly", the employee said on condition of anonymity.

The search project -- which works like a filter that sorts out certain topics -- can be tested within the company's internal networks, the source said.

The news has caused anxiety within the company since it first emerged in US media reports on Wednesday, the employee said.

The tech giant had already come under fire this year from thousands of employees who signed a petition against a $10-million contract with the US military, which was not renewed.

"There's a lot of angst internally. Some people are very mad we're doing it," the source said.

A Google spokesman declined to confirm or deny the existence of the project.

"We provide a number of mobile apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com," spokesman Taj Meadows told AFP.

"But we don't comment on speculation about future plans."

Rights, Democracy Filtered Out

News website The Intercept first reported the story, saying the search app was being tailored for the Google-backed Android operating system for mobile devices.

Terms about human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protests would be blacklisted, according to The Intercept. The app will automatically identify and filter websites blocked by China's Great Firewall, the news outlet said.

The New York Times, citing two people with knowledge of the plans, said that while the company has demonstrated the service to Chinese government officials, the existence of the project did not mean that Google's return to China was imminent.

Amnesty International urged Google to "change course".

"It will be a dark day for internet freedom if Google has acquiesced to China's extreme censorship rules to gain market access," Patrick Poon, a China researcher for Amnesty, said in a statement.

"In putting profits before human rights, Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory."

US internet titans have long struggled with doing business in China, home of a "Great Firewall" that blocks politically sensitive content, such as the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

Twitter, Facebook and The New York Times website are blocked in China.

In early 2010, Google shut down its search engine in mainland China after rows over censorship and hacking.

Google had cried foul over what it said were cyberattacks aimed at its source code and the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

But the company still employs 700 people in China working on other projects.

In December, Google announced it would open a new artificial intelligence research centre in Beijing. Earlier last year, Chinese internet regulators authorised the Google Translate app for smartphones.

The search engine project comes amid a US-China trade war, with both sides imposing tit-for-tat tariffs and President Donald Trump accusing Beijing of stealing US technological know-how.

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Trump to propose 25-percent tariff on $200 bln of Chinese imports: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration plans to propose slapping a 25-percent tariff on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods after initially setting them at 10 percent, in a bid to pressure Beijing into making trade concessions, a source familiar with the plan said on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump’s administration said on July 10 it would seek to impose the 10-percent tariffs on thousands of Chinese imports.

They include food products, chemicals, steel and aluminum and consumer goods ranging from dog food, furniture and carpets to car tires, bicycles, baseball gloves and beauty products.

While the tariffs would not be imposed until after a period of public comment, raising the proposed level to 25 percent could escalate the trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies.

The source said the Trump administration could announce the tougher proposal as early as Wednesday. The plan to more than double the tariff rate was first reported by Bloomberg News.

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There was no immediate reaction from the Chinese government. In July it accused the United States of bullying and warned it would hit back.

Investors fear an escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing could hit global growth, and prominent U.S. business groups have condemned Trump’s aggressive tariffs.

Stock markets edged up globally on Tuesday on a report that the United States and China were seeking to resume talks to defuse the budding trade war.

Representatives of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He have been speaking privately as they seek to restart negotiations, Bloomberg reported, citing sources.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office declined to comment on the proposed tariff rate increase or on whether changing them would alter the deadlines laid out for comment period before implementation.

In early July, the U.S. government imposed 25-percent tariffs on an initial $34 billion of Chinese imports. Beijing retaliated with matching tariffs on the same amount of U.S. exports to China.

Washington is preparing to also impose tariffs on an extra $16 billion of goods in coming weeks, and Trump has warned he may ultimately put them on over half a billion dollars of goods - roughly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year.

The $200 billion list of goods targeted for tariffs — which also include Chinese tilapia fish, printed circuit boards and lighting products — would have a bigger impact on consumers than previous rounds of tariffs.

Erin Ennis, senior vice president of the U.S. China Business Council, said a 10 percent tariff on these products is already problematic, but more than doubling that to 25 percent would be much worse.

“Given the scope of the products covered, about half of all imports from China are facing tariffs, including consumer goods,” Ennis said. “The cost increases will be passed on to customers, so it will affect most Americans pocketbooks.”

Trump had said he would implement the $200 billion round as punishment for China’s retaliation against the initial tariffs aimed at forcing change in China’s joint venture, technology transfer and other trade-related policies.

He also has threatened a further round of tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods. The combined total of over $500 billion of goods would cover virtually all Chinese imports into the United States.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office initially had set a deadline for final public comments on the 10 percent proposed tariffs to be filed by Aug. 30, with public hearings scheduled for Aug. 20-23.

It typically has taken several weeks after the close of public comments for the tariffs to be activated.

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Cuba receives 2,5 Mln tourists in first half 2018

Cuba is on track to meet its target of drawing 5 million foreign visitors by the end of 2018, with 2.5 million international tourists arriving in the first half of the year, local media reported on Saturday.

The latest tourism figures were released during a cabinet meeting presided over by President Miguel Diaz-Canel, state daily Granma said.

Cuba's Tourism Ministry was lauded for its efforts to recover tourism flows in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, which lashed northern Cuba in 2017.

The strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, Irma caused damage to some resorts, but officials moved quickly to rebuild and renovate them since tourism is one of Cuba's leading economic engines.

In 2017, 4.7 million foreign visitors traveled to Cuba, an 11.6-percent increase from the year before.

Considered a strategic industry for the Caribbean island nation, tourism generates annual revenues of more than 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, the second-biggest foreign revenue-earning industry after exports.

The industry has contributed 10 percent of Cuba's national budget and provided half a million jobs.

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Shanghai Party chief meets Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana

Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang met Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on Tuesday.

Li sent President Xi Jinping’s regards to Diaz-Canel and congratulated him on the newly-elected leadership of Cuba in April. Li said the same ideology binds China and Cuba closely together.

In the new era of Sino-Cuba relations, China will unfalteringly carry out win-win cooperation with Cuba and advance the Sino-Cuba relations, Li added.

Diaz-Canel said that Sino-Cuba relations have reached its historical best, and Cuba is working hard to further renew the model of its social and economic development. Cuba is willing to carry out overall cooperation with the Communist Party of China and learn the experience in developing socialism from China.

From July 14 to 17, Li headed a delegation to visit Cuba. During his visit, Li met Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, general secretary of Worker’ Central Union of Cuba, and Jose Ramon Balaguer, head of the International Relations Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Li also attended the 24th Sao Paulo Forum and delivered a speech; visited Cuba’s Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology; and attended the Picture Exhibition of Shanghai’s 40-year Achievements of Opening-up and Reform with leaders of the Communist Party of Cuba.

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With Fresh Tariffs On China, Donald Trump Unleashes Trade War

Washington: Punishing US tariffs on Chinese imports took effect early Friday, marking the start of President Donald Trump's trade war with the largest US trading partner and intensifying the anxieties of global industry.

Beijing was expected to immediately retaliate dollar-for-dollar with its own counter-tariffs after Trump imposed 25 percent duties on about $34 billion in Chinese machinery, electronics and high-tech equipment including autos, computer hard drives and LEDs.

The arrival of the long-threatened tariffs marked the failure of months of dialogue between the world's two largest economies and came amid hand-wringing from industry leaders who fear shrinking markets, higher prices and slower growth.

The tariffs' arrival also made real a campaign-trail pledge for Trump, who has fulminated for years against what he describes as Beijing's underhanded economic treatment of the United States.

US officials accuse China of building that country's emerging industrial dominance by stealing the "crown jewels" of American technological know-how through cyber-theft, forced transfers of intellectual property, state-sponsored corporate acquisitions and other alleged practices.

And they say the current US economic strength, as well as America's soaring trade deficit in goods, means the world's largest economy can outlast its rivals in the current tit-for-tat battle, presenting Washington with a rare window of opportunity to settle old scores.

The US trade deficit in goods with China ballooned to a record $375.2 billion last year, further stoking Trump's ire.

But it remained to be seen whether the American president would carry out recent threats to respond to any Chinese retaliation with maximum pressure -- raising US duties on Chinese goods in increments of $200 billion until virtually all the goods America buys from its largest trading partner are subject to duties.

But, aboard Air Force One on Thursday en route to Montana, Trump erased any hope of an about-face. He said Washington stood ready to slap duties on hundreds of billions more in Chinese imports once Friday's tariffs took effect.


Red states feel the pinch

As the tariffs' start approached at midnight, the US central bank warned Thursday the impending trade battle was beginning to darken the otherwise blue skies of the robust American economy, now starting its 10th year of recovery.

Businesses around the United States told the central bank that spending plans had been scaled back or postponed and they also warned of further adverse effects from the trade conflict, according to a Federal Reserve survey.

An industrial survey confirmed that companies were white-knuckling their way through Trump's intensifying, multi-front trade assault.

"We're starting to see signs of inflation, not sharp inflation, but definitely inflation," Anthony Nieves, head of a services industry survey committee for the Institute for Supply Management, told reporters on Thursday.

The start of the trade war likely confirms the widening rupture between Trump and his own Republican Party, a traditional champion of free trade and big business whose members, while critical, have so-far shrunk from curtailing the White House's trade powers.

But, with the GOP facing strong political headwinds ahead of November's mid-term elections, China's countermeasures left both Trump and Republican lawmakers increasingly vulnerable to voters who appear likely to boost the fortunes of opposition Democrats.

The powerful US Chamber of Commerce, a principal corporate lobby, said this week that retaliation from China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union and others against Trump's tariffs was already affecting $75 billion in US exports -- much of this from states that had narrowly supported Trump in 2016's presidential elections.

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